Coming together or coming apart? Changes in social cohesion during the Covid-19 pandemic in England

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 1, 2021


This paper explores the potential impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on people’s perceptions of cohesion in their local communities; particularly for vulnerable groups/communities, such as ethnic minorities or those living in highly deprived neighbourhoods. To this end, we examine both trends over time in overall levels of cohesion as well as patterns of positive and negative changes experienced by individuals using nationally representative data from Understanding Society Study. We test whether rates of positive-/negative-change in cohesion over the pandemic-period differed across socio-demographic groups and neighbourhood characteristics. These trends are then compared to patterns of positive-/negative-change over time experienced in earlier periods to test whether the pandemic was uniquely harmful. We show that the overall levels of social cohesion are lower in June 2020 compared to all of the examined pre-pandemic periods. The decline of perceived-cohesion is particularly high in the most deprived communities, among certain ethnic minority groups and among the lower-skilled. Our findings suggest that the pandemic put higher strain on social-resources among vulnerable groups and communities, who also experienced more negative changes in other areas of life.

Published in

European Societies

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 23 , p.618 -636








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